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Alexandra (Sasha) Protopopova, MS, PhD Candidate, CPDT-KA University of Florida Adopter-dog interactions at the shelter Behavioral and contextual predictors.

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Presentation on theme: "Alexandra (Sasha) Protopopova, MS, PhD Candidate, CPDT-KA University of Florida Adopter-dog interactions at the shelter Behavioral and contextual predictors."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alexandra (Sasha) Protopopova, MS, PhD Candidate, CPDT-KA University of Florida Adopter-dog interactions at the shelter Behavioral and contextual predictors of adoption

2 What do consumers want? Not straight forward! What is choice? Entering your shelter, looking longer at dog, taking dog out of kennel, adoption, keeping the current dog How do we measure choice? 1. Surveys 2. Observational methods 3. Experimental designs

3 Choice while at the shelter In-kennel selection Out-of-kennel selection

4 Choice while at the shelter In-kennel selection Out-of-kennel selection

5 In-kennel selection Survey Don’t bark, be in the front, temperament is important (Wells & Hepper, 1992) Observational study (Protopopova et al., submitted to PLOS One) N = 300 Front of kennel Face forward No walking back and forth No leaning and rubbing on enclosure

6 How about out-of-kennel selection? Survey (Weiss et al., 2012) What did the dogs do right before adoption? ANSWER: Approached and greeted Licked Jumped on them Wagged their tails What about observational research?

7 Out-of-Kennel Selection We observed 250 interactions between potential adopters and shelter dogs Aims: 1. Can we find behaviors that increase likelihood of adoption? 2. Can we find behaviors that impede adoption? 3. Are there other non-behavioral variables that are important? 4. How do people interact with dogs (Who are these people and why did they think they adopted / not adopted the dog?)

8 Methods Alachua County Animal Services 250 interactions 151 different dogs and 154 potential adoptive families

9 Data collection Followed potential adopter Filmed entire interaction until adoption/ non-adoption decision reached Video coded on ethogram 25% double coded

10 BehaviorOperational Definition Accepting PettingDog does not walk away when person touches or strokes dog Rejecting PettingDog walks or darts away when person reaches for dog Human Toy Play Dog engages with toy that is held by person or runs towards the toy when it is thrown and brings back to person Ignoring Play Initiation Dog walks away or otherwise ignores initiation of play by person (through toy or body) Independent Toy Play Dog engages with toy away from the person Human Play Dog engages with playing person by play bowing, barking, light mouthing, jumping. No toy involved Attending To PersonDog is facing person, looking in direction of the person. Proximity is not necessary Accepting FoodDog ingests food when given or thrown by person Rejecting FoodDog ignores food when given or thrown by person Obeying CommandDog complies with a command (i.e. sit, down, shake, get off, stop it, give, come here, etc.) Disobeying Command Dog does not comply with command Lie In ProximityDog is lying down within an arm’s reach (~1 m) Sit In ProximityDog is sitting within an arm’s reach (~1 m) Mouthing PersonDog places teeth on person Jump On PersonDog places both front feet on person simultaneously and somewhat forcefully BarkingDog emits a bark

11 Post-interaction survey Demographic information on adopter (head of household) Did you plan to bring a dog home today? What will be the purpose of the dog? Other pets? Household members? Children? Why did you adopt this dog? If behavior  which behaviors did you like? Why did you not adopt this dog? If behavior  which behaviors did you not like?

12 Some descriptive stats 35% of interactions ended in adoption 62% of dogs taken out only once People like different dogs/adopt dogs that they like right away 1 dog taken out SEVEN times! (Pretty but badly behaved?) Average duration of interaction: 7.9 minutes (no difference in adoption/ non-adoption) Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

13 What predicts adoption? Morphology? NO Presumably, people already made their decision based on morphology during in-kennel selection Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

14 What predicts adoption? Location of interaction? YES BEST Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

15 What predicts adoption? Intention to adopt a dog in general? YES Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

16 What predicts adoption? Dog’s behavior? YES Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

17 Who were the potential adopters? Female (58%) Young (37% under 25 yrs) Lived with more than 2 other people (54%) Did not have children (54%) Already had other pets (58%) No demographic category was more likely to adopt Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

18 Survey results- Why did you choose to adopt this dog? Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

19 Survey results- Why did you choose to adopt this dog? Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

20 Survey results- Why did you choose to adopt this dog? Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

21 Survey results- Why did you choose to NOT adopt this dog? Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

22 Survey results- Why did you choose to NOT adopt this dog? Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

23 Survey results- Why did you choose to NOT adopt this dog? Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014).

24 Summary: How do people chose dogs at shelters? Preconceived notions on what they want (  untested hypothesis) In-kennel selection (20-70 sec) Morphology is important! Size, breed, coat length, and age matters Behavior: Front of kennel, facing front, no excessive locomotion, no rubbing on kennel Out-of-kennel selection (8 min) Behavior: Lie down in proximity, don’t ignore play signals from adopter Location: smaller is better Mindset of adopter: needs to be willing to take the dog home today!

25 Experimental Assessment Correlation ≠ Causation! If we train dogs and arrange appropriate conditions, would adoption increase? Experimental Group Control Group ADOPTION RATE

26 Training Dogs for Out-of-Kennel Interactions Target behaviors Lie down next to potential adopter Don’t ignore play initiation by the adopter EASY ENOUGH… MY SOLUTION: Ask the dog what kind of play it prefers (individual preference assessment of play) Encourage the potential adopter to engage with the dog in preferred play style Measure likelihood of adoption

27 Experimental Assessment Experimental condition Small interaction area Step 1: allow the dog to potty Step 2: play with preferred toy Step 3: leash the dog and sit on bench Short leash next to adopter Reinforce laying down with treats Control condition Off-leash in a large area containing various toys and agility equipment

28 Structured Out-of-Kennel Interactions Increase Adoption Rates Observed 160 interactions Χ 2 = 4.22, P = 0.03 *

29 Structured Out-of-Kennel Interactions Increase Adoption Rates Observed 160 interactions Χ 2 = 4.22, P = 0.03 * 70% increase in adoptions!

30 Summary: How do people chose dogs at shelters? Preconceived notions on what they want (  untested hypothesis) In-kennel selection (20-70 sec) Morphology is important! Behavior: Front of kennel, facing front, no excessive locomotion, no rubbing on walls Out-of-kennel selection (8 min) Behavior: Lie down in proximity, don’t ignore play signals from adopter Location: smaller is better Mindset of adopter: needs to be willing to take the dog home today!

31 Summary: How do people chose dogs at shelters? Preconceived notions on what they want (  untested hypothesis) In-kennel selection (20-70 sec) Morphology is important! Behavior: Front of kennel, facing front, no excessive locomotion, no rubbing on walls Out-of-kennel selection (8 min) Behavior: Lie down in proximity, don’t ignore play signals from adopter Location: smaller is better Mindset of adopter: needs to be willing to take the dog home today! Confirmed!

32 Summary: How do people chose dogs at shelters? Preconceived notions on what they want (  untested hypothesis) In-kennel selection (20-70 sec) Morphology is important! Behavior: Front of kennel, facing front, no excessive locomotion, no rubbing on walls Out-of-kennel selection (8 min) Behavior: Lie down in proximity, don’t ignore play signals from adopter Location: smaller is better Mindset of adopter: needs to be willing to take the dog home today! Confirmed! In Progress…

33 What should you do? Know your adopters! Demographics Mindset Encourage dogs to come forward to greet adopters Simply give them a treat Structure interactions Bring treats and leash Know which toys individual dogs like Encourage lying down

34 References Protopopova, A., Mehrkam, L. R., Boggess, M. M., Wynne, C. D. L. (Submitted). In-kennel behavior predicts length of stay in shelter dogs. PLOS One. Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (2014). Adopter-dog interactions at the shelter: Behavioral and contextual predictors of adoption. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 157, Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (Submitted). Improving in- kennel presentation of shelter dogs: A case for a Pavlovian treatment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Weiss, E., Miller, K., Mohan-Gibbons, H., Vela, C. (2012). Why did you choose this pet? Adopters and pet selection preferences in five animal shelters in the United States, Animals, 2, Wells, D., & Hepper, P. G. (1992). The behaviour of dogs in a rescue shelter. Animal Welfare, 1(3),

35 Thank you! Alachua County Animal Services Maria Brandifino, Nathaniel Hall Undergraduate research assistants at UF Rachel Bradley, Caroline Leibrecht, Courtney Alexander, Kissel Goldman, Devin Caballero, Austin Folger, Jessica Vondran, Monica Perdomo, Nancy Ordax, Steph Junco, Sarah Weinsztok, Keila Ames Photo credit: Beth Zavoyski, ACAS volunteers, Dory Rosati

36 Supplemental Slides

37 Validated Brief Toy Assessment 2 min acclimation period to the enclosure off-leash Present toys consecutively in a random order 3 times each toy If dog engages in oral contact with toy, the experimenter offers a treat to get the toy back The number of contacts for each toy is counted Retain only toys that are played with at least 2/3 times Tennis ballFleece ropeSqueaky vinyl toy Plush toy

38 Brief Toy Assessment Play in the Brief Toy Assessment predicts play with that toy and in general in naturalistic observations Example of two subjects: Naturalistic observation

39 Video coding 103 interactions coded so far… (64%) Lengths of interactions: Control- 8.5 min, Experimental- 7.3 min * * *

40 Improving in-kennel behavior Simply tossing treats is enough! * Protopopova, A., Wynne, C. D. L. (Submitted).


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